If you’re craving a simple comfort dish, try this roasted Cornish hen with root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes) and onions. It’s delicious and full of flavor: Cornish hens are usually easy to handle and come out great no matter what. The recipe is simple, which is perfect for weeknight dinners after a busy workday. Whole Cornish hens look beautiful on serving plates – which makes this recipe a great choice for special occasions, too! I’ve cooked them for Thanksgiving and Christmas before.
The birds in this recipe come out juicy, moist, with flavorful juices (made with white wine, chicken stock, spices, and hen juices) that can be used as-is over some simple side dish (such as to be poured over rice, quinoa, etc.) or to be reduced into a delicious thickened sauce. Roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and onions complement the hens perfectly, and you can also serve these hens alongside a rice pilaf, quinoa, couscous, or you can cook some mushrooms in the hen juices. The recipe can be easily halved: you don’t have to buy 4 hens if you can get away with 2, right? I actually prefer to just make 2 hens: my husband and I usually share one, and the second one can be used the next day.
Serving Size: whole hen per portion or half a hen per portion
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons smoked paprika + just a bit more
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup chicken stock
salt (at least 1 and 1/2 teaspoons, or more)
4 Cornish game hens, rinsed, patted dry
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and sliced into thin stripes
1/2 cup chicken stock and a little bit more if needed
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degree Fahrenheit.
Rub the insides of Cornish hens with salt and pepper and 3 minced garlic cloves.
In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, chili powder, cumin, remaining minced garlic, 1/4 cup chicken stock and stir well to combine. Use 2/3 of this mixture to rub all over the outside of Cornish hens. Sprinkle the desired amount of salt over the outside of the hens. Sprinkle a very small amount of additional paprika over the hens (for color).
Toss carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes in the remaining 1/3 of the mixture to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Transfer vegetables to the large roasting pan. Place hens breast sides up on top of vegetables. Add a little bit of chicken stock on the bottom of the pan to prevent vegetables from burning.
Roast Cornish hens at 425 Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 Fahrenheit. Combine 1/2 cup of chicken stop and 1/2 cup of white wine and pour the mixture over the hens and into the bottom of the roasting pan. Continue roasting at 350 degrees for 15-20 more minutes, basting hens with pan juices, until hen juices run clear.
Transfer hens and vegetables to a platter. Make sure to pour juices from the hen cavities into a roasting pan. Cover hens with foil. Transfer the sauce from the roasting pan into a smaller saucepan and boil it down a little bit to thicken, if desired. You can also dissolve a little bit of cornstarch in water and add it to the boiling sauce to thicken it. After hens sit under the foil, pour juices from rested hens back into the sauce you just made. If desired, add more chicken stock to the thickened sauce.